The term villa was first born in the Latin period with a totally different meaning than the one we use it today for. Romans used the word with reference to their countryside residences constituting the heart of a farming business. They used the two nomenclature rustic villa and urban villa.
In the beginning, the rustic villa was a simple family-run business, where a family only produced what they needed to live. With the expansion of Rome’s dominion in the late Republican period, villa changed quickly expanding in size (200 – 250 hectares of land). The agricultural business, thanks to the numerous slaves ending up in Italy following the military campaigns, grew and allowed the owners to produce not just the minimum necessary to live but a surplus to be sold to the markets of the whole Europe.
The majority of Roman villas were built in central Italy, where implants reached their apex, much like the modern capitalistic economy. Production ranged from extensive plantations (olive trees and vines) to intensive production, orchards and even pastures.
Given the ability required to run such a business, several authors of the period started writing down some real agronomy treaty such as De agri cultura (Cato the Elder) and De re rustica (Marcus Terentius Varro).
The urban villa, conversely, started its life as a suburban residence, not far from the city and intended as a retreat from the city life for short/long periods of time. In time, these villas ended up incorporated (totally or partially) into the cities growing even bigger than the noble Domus and losing their (albeit minimal) agricultural function to become luxury residences surrounded by gardens and parks. It was not uncommon to find private thermal baths, libraries (extremely rare at the time) and even gyms.
With the fall of Rome, the villa radically changed its function. Barbaric invasions and the following period of war and violence convinced more and more noblemen to seek refuge away from the cities in fortified dwelling usually built on top of a hill. These residences inherited the functions of the Roman villa, being self-sufficient but not run using slaves. These fortified villas were the initial stage of the future process of encastellation in the feudal age.
Only during the Renaissance, with the treaties De re aedificatoria and Villa by Leon Battista Alberti, villas were brought back to their previous function of places for relaxation and idleness. The work by Vitruvius was undoubtedly inspiring and led to the construction of Villa Medici on the hill of Fiesole, first example of a villa where defensive features disappears, and Villa di Poggio a Caiano (Giuliano da Sangallo) which became the archetype for all the following Medicean villas in Tuscany.
16th and 17th century saw the construction of numerous villa around Rome: Villa Madama (designed and started by Raffaello and then completed by Giulio Romano), Villa Albani (not far from Porta Salaria), Villa Borghese, Villa Doria Pamphilj and Villa Giulia are just the most notable examples.
Northern Italy was dominated by Andrea Palladio (1508 – 1580) who designed and built unique villas by using a common base model made up of a central cubic body with entrances on the side reached via some beautiful staircases and framed in a pronaos recalling Greek and Roman temple (the Pantheon in Rome in particular).
Starting the in the 19th, and mainly the 20th century, the term villa has been used to refer to any luxury residence (both in the countryside and in the town centers), usually independent and fitted with a private garden. It is not uncommon, however, using the term to indicate a high-level terraced house built in a prestigious location in the city center (think of Monte Mario in Rome) or with a view over the sea (the Zuccale on Elba or the Amalfi Coast).
Not far from San Gimignano, this beautiful resort with 31 bedrooms is the result of the careful renovation of a historic villa. The property has been finely brought back to its original look and is currently run as an accommodation business with 11 apartments, restaurant and swimming pool. The vicinity of the most famous Tuscan centers is the icing on the cake.
On the hills of Florence, with a beautiful view over the historic center of the city, this 15th-century manorial villa with guesthouse offers a total of 11 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms over 850 sqm. A well-maintained terraced garden with pool is the ideal location for weddings and events and the notable size of the buildings would easily allow starting an accommodation business.
Not far from Grosseto, in the heart of the Tuscan Maremma, wine estate with state of the art cellar and vineyards for sale. The estate includes 45.4 hectares of land, with 27.8 ha of vineyard, 5.5 ha of olive grove, pasture land and fit for seed. The vineyards hosts plants of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante, Syrah, Vermentino, Fiano and Chardonnay which allow for a yearly production of 140.000 bottles.
Not far from Cortona, this 460-sqm farmhouse offers a total of 6 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms. 26 hectares of land surround the building and houses a beautiful pool, an olive grove (200 trees) and a Syrah vineyard. The property is excellent to start an accommodation business.
Madonna di Campiglio: chalet with Wellness centre and ski room for sale. This Chalet is located 3 km from the centre of Madonna di Campiglio. Wellness area with sauna, Turkish bath, multi-sensory showers, icefall and relax area. There is also a ski depot with ski boots heater, cupboards, flat surface for ski maintenance and climbing boulder
Price upon request
On the hills of Cetona, we find this 18-ha estate (7 ha olive grove + 11 ha woodland) with 16th-century villa. The manor villa offers a total of 600 sqm for 8 bedrooms and is rented out with excellent results. The olive grove (roughly 2,000 trees) produces an excellent ‚ÄúTerre di Siena DOP‚ÄĚ olive oil which is exploited both as a condiment and as a cosmetic base for a Natural Skincare product.
Multi-award winning organic winery producing wine, vinsanto, grappa, olive oil and honey for sale in the Chianti Classico, in Tuscany. The estate expands over 42.9 hectares of land, of which 10 ha of vineyards, 1.5 ha of olive grove (40 year-old 300/320 olive trees), 1.7 ha of vegetable garden, fruit orchard, park and gardens, 29.7 ha of coppice and pasture land.
On the banks of Tagliamento river, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, 108-hectare wine estate with Agriturismo and Prosecco vineyards (19.4 ha) capable of producing up to 360,000 bottles of wine per year. The hamlet boasts, among the others, a beautiful manor villa, a Gastaldia and a Barchessa for a total of 30+ bedrooms for the guests.
A short distance from Pisa and the Tuscan coast, this 19th-century villa has been rebuilt by using eco-friendly materials and offers a total of 536 sqm of surface. The guesthouse has been fully finished and is currently inhabited by the owners, the villa needs finishing works on the inside and allows building up to 5 bedrooms. A beautiful garden hosts peculiar and sought-after plants.
Nestled on the rocky cliffs of Positano, this 170-sqm seafront villa offers two bedrooms with terraces and a beautiful view over the historic center of Positano, the Fornillo beach and Li Galli archipelago. Through a 400-step staircase, or via an elevator, one can easily reach the underlying sea. The villa also boasts a private parking spot, a unique and sought feature in Positano.
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